Police Scotland figures show “spike” in festive drink drive arrests

12.00 | 21 January 2016 | | 4 comments

The percentage of drivers in Scotland arrested for drink driving during the 2015 festive period increased year-on-year.

Statistics released today (21 Jan) by Police Scotland show that one in 35 drivers stopped during the Christmas and New Year period were over the legal limit.

During Police Scotland’s four-week enforcement campaign an average of 579 drivers were stopped every day – with 3% of those tested found to be over the legal limit compared to 2% the previous year.

The road safety charity Brake called the figures “shocking”.

Police Scotland says the seasonal spike is in “stark contrast” to the general downward trend of drink driving, pointing to figures showing that 7.6% fewer drivers were caught over the limit in 2015 compared to the previous year.

Focusing on the annual figures, Michael Matheson, Scotland’s justice secretary, said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of people caught drink driving has fallen since the introduction of the lower limit (in Dec 2014).

“Unfortunately there is still a persistent minority of drivers who continue to ignore the law, particularly during the height of summer and over the festive season.

“Of the 459 drivers caught drink driving just 19 were found to be between the old and new limit. The majority of those caught are well over the limit, which is why we are working with Police Scotland on enforcement campaigns to crack down on this persistent minority.”

Chief superintendent Andy Edmonston, Police Scotland’s head of road policing, said: "Despite the encouraging 12 month drop and general downward trend, it is disappointing that during the recent festive campaign we caught 459 drivers who were prepared to cause danger to others as well as themselves.”

Gary Rae, from Brake, said: “It’s deeply disappointing that so many drivers have seen Christmas as an excuse to risk not only their lives, but other road users’ lives too.

“The figures are especially disheartening when compared to the lower figures of Christmas 2014, and the reduced numbers of people caught drink driving in 2015 as a whole after Scotland lowered the legal drink drive limit.”


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    Many thanks Nick. If only I could read properly. This reinforces my concerns about a lower limit.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
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    Paul – I think the figure you are looking for is in the third para of Mr Matheson’s quote.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    Not sure if this is good evidence for the ‘success’ of a lower limit. It depends if ‘like for like’ enforcement is being compared, plus lowering the limit potentially means more drivers will be over it. The missing information is the BAC of those caught – how many are in the range 50 to 80mg, and how many are 80mg plus?

    Paul Biggs, Tamworth
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    Or you could argue the enforcement campaign was better targeted in 2015 compared to 2014.

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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